Tag Archive: John McCain

Jul 19 2014

Stop Listening to Morons

Surface To Air Missiles Kill People

I know I’m a silly and naive hippie. Very Serious People know the importance of arming the rebels, and the rebels of the rebels, and of the governments fighting the rebels, and of the random people who might just be good guys today but who knows about tomorrow, because it’s what we know how to do and our friends get rich in the process.

But, you know, weapons kill people. That’s what they’re for.

Atrios

We need to stop arming morons but most of all we need to stop listening to them.

In the wake of the tragic crash of Malaysian Air Flight 17 yesterday that took the lives of 290, there is a lot of ranting and finger wagging among war hawk conservatives who believe this tragedy could have been averted of we had just given the new Ukrainian government weapons. Considering the clear possibility that the plane was taken down by a Russian made Soviet era surface to air missile, the logic of these neo-cons is baffling. The US backing, arming and training rebels and rogue governments hasn’t worked very well in the past and isn’t working out very well today in either the Middle East or Latin  and South America

Charlie Pierce thinks we should stop listening to morons, in particular a couple of our elected morons, who have never seen a war they didn’t like or a terrorist under every rock, want more weapons and more war. Sen. John “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran” McCain (R-AZ):

“It’s just been cowardly,” McCain said. “It’s a cowardly administration that we failed to give the Ukrainians weapons with which to defend themselves.” He speculated that the Russian separatists who allegedly shot down the plane “may not even have occupied and had access to these weapons, which apparently they got at an airfield,” [..]

“First, give the Ukrainians weapons to defend themselves and regain their territory. Second of all, move some of our troops in to areas that are being threatened by Vladimir Putin, in other countries like the Baltics and others. Move missile defense into the places where we got out of, like the Czech Republic and Poland and other places. And impose the harshest possible sanctions on Vladimir Putin and Russia. And that’s just for openers.”

This from the man who wanted to arm the Syrian rebels who were affiliated with Al Qaeda, some of whom are now trying to overthrow the American backed Iraqi government. John, please, just please, retire.

And of course the call for throwing more weapons into the mix wouldn’t be complete without some good ol’ fear mongering for Rep. Peter King (R-NY)

“[W]e need more leadership from the president,” King, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said on MSNBC. “He gave this a passing reference in his speech in Delaware, then went on to tell Joe Biden jokes and take the usual shots at Republicans – which is fair game, but not on this day – and then to go to New York and go to two fundraisers. I mean, I can’t imagine [former Presidents Dwight] Eisenhower or [John F.] Kennedy or [Ronald] Reagan doing that.”

Ronnie Reagan? Seriously. The man who slept through the downing of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 over the Kamchatka Peninsula by Soviet forces in 1983 and took three days to make a statement? Pete, get a grip

More of what Charlie said about arming morons:

I often refer to the scene featuring the great character actor Philip Bosco, as a judge in the small upstate New York town that is the setting for the vastly underrated Paul Newman movie Nobody’s Fool. Newman is before the judge because he has punched a local cop — played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman — and, in response, the cop had fired off a warning shot that frightened an old woman a few blocks over. Bosco listens to the story and then addresses the police chief. “You know my views on arming morons,” Bosco says. “If you arm one, you have to arm them all. Otherwise, it isn’t good sport.”

It is becoming plain that the atrocity visited on the Malaysian jetliner is a direct result of arming morons. The New York Times obtained audiotape, allegedly from the people who shot down the plane, and these guys sound like they shouldn’t be trusted with a lemon zester, let alone a surface-to-air missile. And it is quite plain that the one thing this situation doesn’t need is to arm more morons, or to have another superpower come bungling in. Either by accident or by design — and Josh Marshall is right to point out that, if it’s the former, that’s infinitely worse — Vladimir Putin is responsible for a horrendous crime, and one that weakens his international standing. The only thing that would bail him out would be a flood of American arms to our own set of morons. The only thing that would bail him out would be if we all started listening to John McCain again.

We do know that the separatists in Eastern Ukraine have been armed by the Russians and have taken credit for bring down other planes over the last several weeks. If this is true, the culpability for this tragic loss of lives lies directly at the feet of Vladimir Putin, he alone has the power to stop this. Like Putin, the US needs to stop arming morons and stop listening to them as well.

Aug 07 2013

John & Lindsey’s Not So Excellent Adventure

What was Barack Obama thinking when he gave his blessing to a these two clods to represent the US in Egypt, for any reason. Apparently, Republican Senators John McCain (AZ) and Lindsey Graham (SC) not only managed to fail at whatever it was they were sent to accomplish but managed to insult everyone in the military led interim government.

First, didn’t anyone in the State Department brief McCain to put a sock in it and not use the word “coup”?

McCain (R-Ariz.) and Graham (R-S.C.) had used the word “coup” at an afternoon press conference to describe the manner in which Egypt’s military had seized power from the Muslim Brotherhood’s elected president, Mohamed Morsi, in early July. [..]

In a statement later on Tuesday, distributed by Egypt’s Middle East News Agency and reported by Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh, a top media advisor to Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour, offered a stronger rebuke. The statement accused McCain of twisting facts, and dismissed his remarks as “clumsy,” or “irresponsible,” depending on the translation. (On Twitter, bilingual Arabic speakers debated the best translation for the word, “kharqa,” which also could be interpreted as “moronic” or “irrational.”)

Pres. Mansour went to call McCain’s comments “an unacceptable interference in internal policies”. When later asked by journalists whether the pair really meant that the military-backed overthrow was a coup, a term the US State Department has avoided using, McCain’s response was,  “I’m not here to go through the dictionary. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.”

These two dolts went on to lecture the Egyptian leadership on ways to reach an accord with the Muslim Brotherhood, urging General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in a Tuesday meeting to release all political prisoners as a starting point for holding free elections. In a press conference after the meeting, Graham further stepped in the diplomatic mire the two had created

“In democracy, you sit down and talk to each other. It is impossible to talk to somebody who is in jail.” [..]

“The people who are in charge were not elected. The people who were elected are in jail. The status quo is not acceptable.”

Really? Could Pres. Obamba sent two worse representatives into such a volitile situation? Maybe he could have sent Bill and Ted, from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Middle East expert and historian Juan Cole weighed in on why McCain and Graham the lack of credibility to talk to the Egyptians:

1. McCain and Graham are urging the interim Egyptian government to engage in dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood. But in winter of 2011 just after the fall of Mubarak, this is what McCain said:

   ” SPIEGEL: What is your assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood?

   McCain: I think they are a radical group that first of all supports Sharia law; that in itself is anti-democratic – at least as far as women are concerned. They have been involved with other terrorist organizations and I believe that they should be specifically excluded from any transition government. “

The phrase “they have been involved with other terrorist organizations” suggests that McCain considered the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, just as Gen. Sisi does. One of the pretexts on which Sisi has jailed several Muslim Brotherhood leaders is their ties to Hamas and “terrorism.” So how would McCain argue him out of that stance.  [..]

2. McCain insisted that there was in fact a military coup in Egypt on July 3, and called for political prisoners (the former Muslim Brotherhood elected government) to be released. But McCain supported the military coup of 1999 by Gen. Pervez Musharraf against the elected government of Muslim League leader Nawaz Sharif.

3. Graham doesn’t like people to win elections if he doesn’t like them. When the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, won the Palestine Authority elections in early 2006, Graham rejected their legitimacy [..]

If this mission was meant to help resolve the crisis the crisis in a country that is instrumental in Washington’s Middle East policy, it was a miserable failure that may have actually harmed the US relationship with Egypt.

May 29 2013

Where in the World Was John McCain?

This weekend the perennial war hawk of the Senate, John McCain (R-AZ), was conspicuously absent from his usual place on the Sunday talk shows. We now know why, he was in Syria meeting with the rebel opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The Daily Beast’s Josh Rogan had the exclusive story:

McCain, one of the fiercest critics of the Obama administration’s Syria policy, made the unannounced visit across the Turkey-Syria border with Gen. Salem Idris, the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army. He stayed in the country for several hours before returning to Turkey. Both in Syria and Turkey, McCain and Idris met with assembled leaders of Free Syrian Army units that traveled from around the country to see the U.S. senator. Inside those meetings, rebel leaders called on the United States to step up its support to the Syrian armed opposition and provide them with heavy weapons, a no-fly zone, and airstrikes on the Syrian regime and the forces of Hezbollah, which is increasingly active in Syria.

The visit comes in the midst of Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to get the warring parties to negotiations at an international conference in Geneva this June. The Senate has been pushing the White House to better arm the rebels, the administration has been more cautious. The White House said that they were aware of Sen. McCain’s trip and looking “forward to speaking with Senator McCain upon his return to learn more about the trip.”

While Sen McCain visited with Gen. Idris, the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army, the meeting was arranged by an American nonprofit organization that works in support of the Syrian opposition, the Syrian Emergency Task Force whose founder has supported Al Qaeda. The organization was founded by a former Senate staffer, Moustafa Mouaz. According to Justin Raimondo ar Anti-War.com, the organization “doesn’t have to register as an agent of a foreign power – since the Foreign Agents Registration Act is only selectively enforced.”:

Mouaz is a former aide to Senator Blanche Lincoln and Rep. Vic Synder, both liberal to centrist Democrats. Here he is cheering on al-Nusra – the official al-Qaeda franchise in Syria – on Twitter. (See also here and here.) The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), the “educational” branch of AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, lists him on their web site as one of their trusted “experts”: he recently addressed a WINEP conference. [..]

(..) the same Moustafa Mouaz who is now serving as the executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force formerly held the same position for – you guessed it! – the Libyan Emergency Task Force. And we know how well that worked out for us. [..]

Where does the money come from? Who is providing the media connections, the organizational heft, and the cold hard cash it takes to make a major push for US intervention in Syria?

Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to US involvement in Syria but there is little opposition in congress. Tea Party, sometimes Libertarian Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was one of the few voices that criticized the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for supporting Al Qaeda:

This is an important moment. You will be funding, today, the allies of al Qaeda. It’s an irony you cannot overcome.

Al Jazeera reported in April that the Al-Nusra Front vowed to “obey al-Qaeda.”

“The sons of Al-Nusra Front pledge allegiance to Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri,” the man who identified himself as Abu Mohammed al Julani said in an audio clip posted on YouTube that went public on Wednesday.

Zawahiri is known to be the chief commander of al-Qaeda.

Julani, who is recognised as the head of the group Jabat al Nusra, or Al-Nusra Front, said in the video that his fighters had declared from the start of the uprising that Islamic law needs to be enforced across Syria, but did not want to announce the group’s affiliation to al-Qaeda prematurely.

Fellow war hawk, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), upon learning of his cohort’s clandestine adventure, ironically tweeted:

Jason Raimando noted that these rebels are dangerous and not a joke:

Leave it to Sen. Graham, who has been agitating along with McCain for the US to send weapons to the rebels, to joke about the untrustworthiness of the very people he wants to arm. But the rebels’ savagery is no joke: we are, after all, talking about people who eat the lungs of their enemies.

The European Union has ended its arms embargo to the Syrian Rebels and the United Nations Human Rights Council has called for the end of fighting around the strategic town of Qusayr and condemned “the intervention of foreign combatants on the government’s side in the Syrian civil war.”. Russia denounced the resolution calling it “odious and one-sided,” and “untimely, counterproductive and likely to complicate the launch of the peace process in Syria.”

All indications are that the Syrian rebels are Islamic militants. This is a civil war as was Libya and we see how well that has turned out. What ever happened to the “war on terrorism” and destroying Al Qaeda? Apparently it goes to the back burner when it interferes with America’s regime changing foreign policy.

Apr 17 2012

Technology for Fun, Profit and Total Control

Orwell may appear prescient when he imagined his telescreen that the government used as a means of social and political control, given that we now have the government routinely using devices like the cell phones for tracking citizens and tapping into everyone’s electronic communications to “hunt for terrorists” among us.  Recently we learned that the Department of Homeland Security monitors and analyzes social media including for online comments that “reflect adversely” on the federal government.  It seems that the government is so ambitious about collecting and analyzing information about us that the NSA is building an almost inconceivably large facility to store and mine Americans private communications.

It seems that every time a new communications technology becomes available, the government finds a compelling reason and a secret rationale to exploit it to monitor Americans.

That is why this new technology, pioneered by Google should really make you wonder how it will be used:

See what I mean?

May 13 2011

John McCain: Torture Doesn’t Work

Torture is a war crime. Water boarding is torture. If you advocate, authorize or perform it on another person, you are breaking not just US law but international law. Period. The President and the DOJ are obligated by law to investigate and prosecute war crimes. Under the law if they do not, they, themselves are complicit. There are no excuses.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who was tortured while a POW in Viet Nam, wrote an editorial in the Washington Post rejecting and chastising those who were making the claim that torture, specifically water boarding, was instrumental in finding Osama bin Laden. He then appeared on the Senate floor ans spoke for 20 minutes.

Former attorney general Michael Mukasey recently claimed that “the intelligence that led to bin Laden . . . began with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed , who broke like dam under the pressure of harsh interrogation techniques that included water boarding. He loosed a torrent of information – including the nickname of a trusted courier of bin Laden.” That is false.

I asked CIA Director Leon Panetta for the facts, and he told me the following: The trail to bin Laden did not begin with Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was water boarded 183 times. The first mention of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, the nickname of the al-Qaeda courier who ultimately led to bin Laden, as well as a description of him as an important member of al-Qaeda, came from a detainee who was held in another country, who we believe was not tortured. None of the three detainees who were water boarded provided Abu Ahmed’s real name, his whereabouts or an accurate description of his role in al-Qaeda.

Law professor Jonathan Turley appeared on MSNBC’s The Ed Show and addressed this on his blog

Last night on The Ed Show, I discussed the amazing speech and column by Senator John McCain on torture. One of the most notable aspects of the comments was McCain stating that the claim by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey that torture led to the location of Bin Laden is simply untrue and confirmed as false by CIA Director Leon Panetta.

As did Ron Paul in the recent Republican debate, John McCain confronted his colleagues over the effort to redeem torture by claiming that it was beneficial in this case. As he correctly notes, torture is a war crime not because it lacks any benefit in terms of intelligence but because it is immoral . . . . .

To the contrary, McCain points out that the torture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed resulted in demonstrably “false and misleading information.”

Where I part with McCain is his insistence that, despite it being torture (and thus a war crime), no one should ever be punished for the crimes. It is important to stand for principle but it is even more important to bear the responsibility that comes with principle. It may not be popular or convenient, but we are obligated to investigate and prosecute torture.

Glenn Greenwald is an absolute must read on the Nuremberg Principles:

Benjamin Ferencz is a 92-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen, American combat soldier during World War II, and a prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, where he prosecuted numerous Nazi war criminals, including some responsible for the deaths of upward of 100,000 innocent people.  He gave a fascinating (and shockingly articulate) 13-minute interview yesterday to the CBC in Canada about the bin Laden killing, the Nuremberg principles, and the U.S. role in the world.  Without endorsing everything he said, I hope as many people as possible will listen to it.

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey then lamely attempted to rebut McCain through an op-ed by former Cheney speech writer, Marc A Thiessen. It does not change the fact that Mukasey, Gonzalez, Bybee, Yoo, et al and now, Holder, have excused, covered up and defended war crimes, thus making them all eligible for cells at the Hague.